Monday, October 27, 2014

Yuzuki Japanese Eatery in San Francisco: A Little Culinary Trip to Japan

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

‘Subtle, unassuming, understated’ – these words define a small yet very popular Japanese restaurant that takes pride in its authenticity. Located on the corner of Guerrero and 18th Street in San Francisco, the venue opened in 2011 as Yuzuki Izakaya, and recently changed its name to reflect a more sophisticated approach. Stepping inside the high-ceilinged dining room with white and persimmon color scheme, artistic drawings of vegetables on a white wall, and gauzy fabric curtain room dividers is like being immediately transported to Japan.

Dinnerware of Japanese ceramics, cedar chopsticks from eco-friendly Japanese plantations, and cloth napkins made of colorful print cotton, as well as a collection of sake bottles on display in front of the kitchen window add to the genuine feel of the Yuzuki Japanese Eatery.
Executive Chef Kentaro Ikuta and proprietor Yuko Hayashi put on the menu monthly changing offerings, daily specials and the newly added omakase option, available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, that needs to be ordered a week in advance.

Dropping in on a casual Sunday night, we started with a delightfully cool Junmai sake from an extensive sake menu. Dewatsuru Kimoto from Dewatsuru brewery in Akita is full-bodied, mellow, and has a hint of mushroom aroma. Its higher acidity comes from a labor- and time-intensive method of preparation, and it pairs well with food.

The signature house-made tofu is produced utilizing traditional techniques, rarely followed elsewhere. Organic soybeans are soaked overnight and then cooked, squeezed and filtered to make soy milk that is steamed with Nigari (sea brine). The delicate, white and silky fresh tofu is served with flaky sea salt to be added to taste on the table.

Fried eggplant in broth is another subtle yet distinct starter – soaked in fish broth with soy, garlic, and sesame seeds.

From the Grilled section of the menu comes Yaki Surume Ika – “Salt Koji” marinated Hokkaido squid. A full invertebrate – body grilled, tentacles deep fried – comes thinly sliced, restored to its original form on the plate, accompanied with a side of house-made yuzu mayonnaise, and wildly delicious.

Among the Crispy items Kara-age Chicken – “Salt Koji” marinated fried chicken acquires a special golden hue, tastes positively succulent, and is garnished with shishito peppers and house-pickled vegetables that change often and can include cucumbers, Japanese radish, and golden beets.

Rice at Yuzuki Japanese Eatery is not your regular rice. Koshihikari rice grown in Central Valley, California, is cooked in Japanese earthen pot for two, and the menu asks to allow 30 minutes for its preparation. Seasonal Rice ingredients change with seasons, and our “today’s special” pot of fragrant rice included chicken, fried tofu, carrots, burdock root, fish broth, and herbs.      

We had a refreshing ginger sorbet sprinkled with candied ginger for dessert – a fitting finale for a beautifully served, tasty, and satisfying meal.

Yuzuki Japanese Eatery is located at 598 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, California. Dinner is served Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Call for reservations (415) 556-9898 or visit www.yuzukisf.com 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

San Francisco Fashion Show Presents Mimi Tran and on aura tout vu

Photo reportage by Yuri Krasov

 

Two of the biggest couture brands, Mimi Tran, and on aura tout vu arrived in America for the first time, presented by Replete Skincare at the Grand Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco yesterday with MC Elisabeth Thieriot – Founder of Replete.

The up and coming pop singer French performed for the very first time on American shores at this fashion show. 'The Ballad of Heels' presentation showcased the most interesting shoes of the season from the San Francisco based luxury footwear designer, Konstantina Tzovolou.

'High Gloss Haute Couture' by the world's premiere Haute Couture accessory label, on aura tout vu, the official wild-child of Haute Couture, was a collaboration of two Bulgarians – Parisian fashionistas, Livia Stoianova and Yassen Samouilov, who presented 24 looks in their trademark surprising way.  



 
 

 


 

Tosca in San Francisco Opera: Timeless Music, Delightful Vocal Strength

By Emma Krasov

The San Francisco Opera production of classical Tosca by Giacomo Puccini (Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa) tells a story, based part on historical facts and figures, part on fiction, of a Roman opera singer circa Napoleonic Wars; her noble artist lover, and her unwelcome suitor – a villain-at-power about to crush them both – him with his hate, her with his love.
Never going out of style, the story, and the moving, marvelous music that accompanies it seem reaching new heights with the audiences’ appreciation of the current cast masterfully performing this well-loved opera, conducted by Italian maestro Riccardo Frizza, designed by Thierry Bosquet, directed by Jose Maria Condemi, and accompanied by San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus.    
Making her San Francisco Opera debut, soprano Lianna Haroutounian in the role of Floria Tosca is in turn loving, playful, brave, outraged, hopeful, and downright violent, while maintaining her enormous vocal ability at all times and delighting the audiences with her rich nuanced voice.

A great match for the celebrated soprano is tenor Brian Jagde as Mario Cavaradossi, with his remarkably good looks, commanding stage presence, dramatic talent, and the most amazing voice – so powerful and effortless – it gives a listener a special kind of satisfaction when one knows that nothing could go wrong, and the enjoyment will sustain to the very last note, and beyond!     

Baritone Mark Delavan in the role of Baron Scarpia excels on all counts, creating a full-blooded believable image of a corrupt police chief in pursuit of a beautiful singer with his vocal and dramatic mastery.
The lead characters are supported by the rest of the talented cast (Scott Conner as Cesare Angelotti, Dale Travis as Sacristan, Joel Sorensen as Spoletta, Efraín Solís as Sciaronne, and Hadleigh Adams as Jailer.  Chorus Director Ian Robertson, Lighting Designer Gary Marder.                                                                                                                 
San Francisco Opera’s Tosca is sung in Italian with English supertitles and runs through November 8. The performances are scheduled for November 1 at 7:30 p.m., November 4 at 7:30 p.m. and November 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are priced from $25 to $370 and may be purchased at www.sfopera.com, through the San Francisco Opera Box Office [301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street), or by phone at (415) 864-3330]. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; at $10 each, cash only.
The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco.
Images: Courtesy San Francisco Opera

Hoping for Gold at alkymists

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

 
The medieval alchemists didn’t succeed in turning lead into gold, but their pursuit continues to excite the minds of the restless. The newly opened and whimsically named alkymists restaurant, bar & foodanthropy [no capitalization] in Palo Alto, California, seems to embark on a gold-seeking experiment with some bold moves shown everywhere from décor to multi-ingredient dishes and libations.

The space, previously occupied by the Palo Alto Grill with clubby conservative ambiance, has been completely rethought by the alkymists partner Thierry Fassiotti; revamped and redecorated with bright red, orange, and dark brown color scheme, exposed wood beams and brick columns, high-gloss epoxy sealed tables marked with a dragonfly image on a corner, and newly cut windows with brightly-colored square frames, all lined with multiple pots of sansevieria plant, a.k.a. the devil’s tongue…

The alkymists bar program includes house-made herb-and-spice infusions, served neat on the rocks in single shots or flights, and “elixirs” based on the said infusions – each numbered after an amount of herbs and spices added to the liquor.  Among the elixirs, designed by Bar Manager Kelly Boisvert, there’s the Shaman #13, made with Cointreau infused with rosemary, habanero, tarragon, oregano, mint, thyme, yerba mate, lime rind, gotu kola, damiana, rhodiola, shatavari and catuaba, lime juice, a twig of fresh rosemary, and cinnamon sugar rim.
The menu, also developed by Fassiotti in collaboration with chef Jared Combs, focuses on the concept of Asian and Latin American fusion with various degrees of success.

Served on a bright red-orange ceramic plate with dark spot design are pork belly tacos from the …street food… menu. The tacos contain curry-glazed corn, cabbage slaw, chipotle mayo, and parsley – all slightly overwhelmed by the doughy taste of taco shell.

Crepes filled with slow-braised brisket, and topped with fried egg, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce present a much better-tasting option from the same section of the menu.
Among all the …salads… our server recommended a “fantastic” chipotle smoked chicken salad with carrots, jicama, celery, almonds, mixed greens, and mustard vinaigrette, which turned out to be less than fantastic, with minced meat that looked and tasted like canned chicken from a grocery store shelf, with both “chipotle” and “smoked” hardly noticeable, and mixed greens prevailing over other ingredients.

From the …pizza world… came delicious-sounding flat bread with truffle burrata, Thai basil, roasted bell pepper sauce, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, and pine nuts. It had good chewy texture and nicely-spiced sauce, but unfortunately no traces of truffle; ruined in the oven burrata that lost all its fresh appeal in the process of baking, and way too many pine nuts – their pleasant yet distinct flavor overwhelming the mild and already subdued cheese.      

From the …plates… braised short ribs contained some well-cooked meat, cauliflower parsnip puree, creamy polenta, balsamic-braised cippolini, crispy fried mushrooms, smoky poached egg, masala demi glaze, and some very sweet carrots.

The gold was found on the …dessert… menu. While goji berry crème brulee with vanilla bean and fresh berries contained no fresh berries, rather dried goji sprinkled with sugar, it was silky and good-tasting, and the airy beignets were a definite winner with three sauces – macerated berries, orange essence whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.     

alkymists restaurant, bar & foodanthropy is located at 140 University Avenue, Palo Alto, California. Dinner is served nightly, Sunday through Thursday from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday, 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. Weekend brunch is offered from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Call for reservations (650) 321-3514, or visit: www.alkymists.com.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cochon and Cider: Good for Party Types

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

In ancient Greece, proto-psychologists suggested that all people can be defined by four personality types. Sanguine types were supposed to be pleasure-seeking and sociable, choleric – ambitious and jittery, melancholic – sad and quiet, and phlegmatic – relaxed and slow. True or not, some activities have always attracted mostly the sanguine types (loosely translates as “red-blooded”) or, as we can call ourselves, the party types!

A big and boisterous party for the San Francisco Bay Area foodies and winos was happening last weekend at a private estate in Sausalito, provided by the local food and wine industry celebrities – Manfred Wremble, Executive Chef of Schroeder’s Restaurant in San Francisco; Mark & Myriam Pasternak, proprietors of Devil's Gulch Ranch; Heather Jerrehian, COO of AgLocal; Jolie Devoto & Hunter Wade, proprietors of Devoto Orchards Ciders and Golden State Cider, and their colleagues, co-founder Nils Reid and director of sales Yeshe Wingerd, as well as other team members of AgLocal.

Mighly Dry Golden State Cider and Devoto Orchards Cider were paired with ethically raised roasted pork provided by Pasternak and prepared by Chef Wremble, who also made his signature salads for the occasion: Roasted Acorn Squash with smoked apples, Brussels sprouts and walnuts, and German Potato with bacon, eggs, capers, and cider vinaigrette.      

Devoto Orchards Ciders (along with their newly launched Golden State Cider) was originally founded in 1976 by Stan and Susan Devoto. Sourced from the 6,500 apple trees, including more than 50 heirloom varieties on the family's 20-acre farm, semi-dry cider is an elegant alternative to beer and offers lower alcohol content than wine. Hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, Devoto's apples are pressed and fermented in stainless steel to preserve the aromas and bright acidity of the fruit. Today, Devoto Orchards Cider is owned and operated by Jolie Devoto and Hunter Wade. 

AgLocal (Naithan Jones, Founder/CEO) is a San Francisco-based company that delivers responsibly sourced, sustainable and ethically raised meats from local family farms to consumers' doorsteps. The company recently announced that its farm-fresh, healthful meats are available for order via AmazonFresh, reaching out to consumers beyond Northern California.

Each AgLocal box has information on the farms that source the meats, as well as recipes on how to prepare them from top chefs who partner with AgLocal.

The Apostle of Italian Pie Tony Gemignani Brings You The Pizza Bible Cookbook

By Emma Krasov
 
I was sitting at the table at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco’s North Beach “Little Italy” and watching the line of Tony’s fans waiting for their turn to get a signed copy of the celebrity chef’s third cookbook, The Pizza Bible, from the Master’s own hands.

The book-signing launch party started at 5:30 p.m., and the line, entertained by an old-fashioned accordionist, was already around the block. By 9:30 p.m., when the party ended, there were still late-comers hoping to get in, while the constant stream of people has never stopped even for a moment.

San Francisco celebrity chef Tony Gemignani, 11-time World Pizza Champion, and his team – Elmer Mejicanos, Laura Meyer, Thiago Vasconcelos, and Matt Molina – introduced to the party attendees all the new award-winning pies featured in The Pizza Bible, and the artisanal pizza-making was going on all night.

The Pizza Bible is a comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine different regional styles. It includes standards like Neopolitan, Roman, and Chicago, as well as renowned pizza sub-specialties like St. Louis and Californian. Tony Gemignani, a Guinness world record-holding pizza-spinner, goes beyond devotion to one particular style covered in most pizza books. (For those who truly love pizza, there’s no need to be monogamous). The pizza master brings his favorite food to the people in all its glorious forms, from Chicago deep-dish to paper-thin Roman style.

The Pizza Bible is the world’s first guide to making all of the major pizza styles, filling a hole in the market and elevating the craft of making pizza to that of bread or charcuterie.
The Pizza Bible is available through Amazon, Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Publisher: Ten Speed Press.
For more information or to purchase, please visit www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/the-pizza-bible.  
Tony Gemignani Restaurant Group is comprised of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Slice House, Capo’s, and Slice House at AT&T Park, all located in San Francisco, CA; Tony’s of North Beach and Tony’s Slice House, located in Rohnert Park, CA; Pizza Rock Sacramento; and Pizza Rock Las Vegas. For more information, please visit www.tonygemignani.com.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is located at: 1570 Stockton St. (at Union St.), San Francisco, CA 94133. Call for reservations: (415) 835-9888.